The following is a pre-recorded program. Taking into a debate over a decade old, Rabbi Shmuley and yours truly in New York City. Did Jesus die for our sins?
A debate on Isaiah 53. It's great to be with all of you. I appreciate you coming very much. And it's great to be here with my dear friend Shmuley. We're actually both so busy that the only way we can get together and have a meal is to schedule a debate. So I look forward to spending the night with you later. And it's great to have a debate focused on the question, did Jesus die for our sins?
And does Isaiah, the 53rd chapter, speak of him? I've agreed with Shmuley to do debates on other subjects, God willing, in the future. Like the question of the incarnation or even issues relating to heaven and hell. Happy to debate on those.
But tonight we're going to focus on this issue. Did Jesus die for our sins? Does Isaiah 53 speak of him? Now I want to clarify something first. When I say that Jesus, Yeshua, died for our sins, that does not mean that his death absolves us of personal responsibility.
What it means is this. His death takes the place of the atoning temple sacrifices. His death is the perfect guilt offering. His death fulfills the intercessory role of Israel's high priest. His death is the ultimate example of what rabbinic literature speaks of as the atoning power of the death of the righteous.
And when we couple his death on the cross for our behalf with faith and repentance, our sins will be forgiven and we'll receive empowerment to live a holy life before God. Now I want to explain something. Some of you may not be completely familiar with a few of the Jewish concepts I just made reference to. So I want to read a quote to you from a highly respected Orthodox rabbi and historian, Beryl Wine from his book, Triumph of Survival.
This is an Orthodox rabbi. He's speaking of how Jews cope with suffering through the generations. He said, another consideration tinged the Jewish response to the slaughter of its people. It was an old tradition dating back to biblical times that the death of the righteous and innocent served as an expiation for the sins of the nation or the world. The stories of Isaac and of Nadav and Avihu, the prophetic description of Israel as the long suffering servant of the Lord, the sacrificial service in the temple all served to reinforce this basic concept of the death of the righteous as an atonement for the sins of other men. Jews nurtured this classic idea of death as an atonement and this attitude towards their own tragedies was their constant companion throughout their turbulent exile. Therefore the holy bleak picture of unreasoning slaughter was somewhat relieved by the fact that the innocent did not die in vain and that the betterment of Israel and humankind somehow was advanced by their stretching their neck to be slaughtered.
The spirit of the Jews is truly reflected in the historical chronicle of the time called Yevim Yitzilah. Would the holy one, blessed be he, dispense judgment without justice? But we may say that he whom God loves will be chastised, for since the day the holy temple was destroyed the righteous are seized by death for the iniquities of the generation. This is an orthodox rabbi writing and I want you to notice he compares the prophetic description of Israel as the long suffering servant of the Lord with the sacrificial service in the temple saying that both of them served to reinforce this basic concept of the death of the righteous as an atonement for the sins of other men. So he's saying that Isaiah 53 applies to Israel as the suffering servant of the Lord and that the deaths of the Jewish people through the ages, specifically the righteous and the innocent according to this rabbi, quote, served as an expiation for the sins of the nation or the world.
So we just need to fine tune his position to say this. It's not Israel as a nation that dies for the sins of the world according to Isaiah 53. It is the Messiah, the ideal representative of Israel who dies for the sins of the nation and the world according to Isaiah 53. I'm going to make five main points having to do with Isaiah 53. I'll make reference to lots of scriptures.
You won't be able to look them all up now but write them down or get the DVD. I'm going to be textual. I'm going to be specific. I'm not going to try to push emotional buttons. I want to look at what the text says you're thinking, people.
I want to give you something to think about. Number one, context is everything. Context is everything. If you go through Isaiah chapters 40 to 51, you'll see that the Hebrew word event, which is servant, the servant of the Lord is mentioned 17 times from Isaiah 40 to 51. Sometimes with reference to the nation of Israel as a whole, like Isaiah 41, 8 and 9 and Isaiah 42, 19. Sometimes with reference to a righteous individual within the nation, like Isaiah 49, 3 and Isaiah 50, 10. And in several verses, it's debated whether it's the nation as a whole or an individual being spoken of or you can make a good case for an individual like Isaiah 42, 1.
But here's what's so fascinating. The references to the servant in any plural sense, the references to the servant as a nation stop in Isaiah 48, 20. And from there on, the servant is always and only an individual.
Study it out for yourself. So by the time you reach Isaiah 52, 13, which is really the beginning of the Isaiah 53 passage, the focus is clear. It's speaking of a righteous individual within the nation. It's also important to notice that many of the prophecies of redemption in the scripture have as their backdrop Israel, the Jewish people coming out of exile in Babylon. Passages like Jeremiah 23, 1 through 8, Jeremiah chapters 30 to 33, Ezekiel chapter 36. They all speak of redemption coming on the heels of the Jewish people coming out of exile in Babylon.
That's the same context here. And there's a little rabbinic saying, v'hamaskil yavin, that the wise will understand, the word to the wise is sufficient. Check in Isaiah chapter 52 verses 11 and 12.
The words go out from the midst and the words you will not leave in haste. You'll find there specific words that also occur in Exodus 12 and Deuteronomy 16 with reference to the Passover. This will be a better exodus than the first exodus, even pointing to the suffering servant as the Lamb of God. So to repeat, according to the larger context of Isaiah, chapter 53 clearly refers to a person, not the nation.
This is major. Number two, the mission of the servant is to bring Israel back to God, although it would seem initially that he failed in that mission, and to be a light to the nation. It would take endurance and he would definitely suffer along the way. This is according to what's written in Isaiah leading up to Isaiah 53. According to Isaiah chapter 42, the servant is obedient and righteous, setting captives free.
And according to the Targum, the Aramaic paraphrase of the scripture and some of the leading rabbinic commentators, Isaiah 42 one speaks of the Messiah in that verse and the following verses. What does it say about him? I'll put my spirit on him. He'll bring justice to the nations. He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law, the islands will put their hope. And then it says that he will be a light for the nations, for the goyim, for the Gentiles. Who is this speaking about? And then Isaiah the 49th chapter, the servant is called Israel, and yet has a mission to regather Israel and Jacob and bring them back to God. And the servant is discouraged because he looks like he failed in his mission. And God says to him in Isaiah 49, don't be discouraged. Not only will you regather Israel, but you'll also be a light for the nations.
I wonder who this is speaking about. Before we ever reach Isaiah 53, it's clear that the servant is not Israel in its entirety. Rather, he sent out a mission to restore Israel.
And not only does he have a mission to Israel that looks initially like it fails, he has a mission to the nations. I'm just reading what the text says. Remember, context. Let's read what the scriptures say. We've all been raised with different traditions and opinions. Let's go back to what the scriptures say.
Number three, just following what's written. The servant will experience great God-like exaltation, but it will be preceded by severe suffering. The servant of the Lord will die and then rise from the dead. So already in Isaiah 50, it says this about the servant of the Lord. The sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I've not been rebellious. I have not drawn back. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard.
I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. But then in 52, 13, which begins the passage we're focusing on tonight, it speaks of him being highly exalted. In fact, the only other one spoken of in such terms in the book of Isaiah is God himself, Rambamizah, high and exalted. According to the Midrash, he's going to be higher than Abraham, higher than Moses, higher than the ministering angels.
But first, he'd be marred and mauled so he didn't even look like a human being. I mean, who is this speaking about? Then Isaiah 53, this is what it says. You can read the whole text carefully when you get home if you're not familiar with it. I'm just giving one verse after another. Isaiah 53 speaks of him being smitten and afflicted, wounded, crushed, bruised. It says he was like a sheep being led to slaughter. It says he was cut off from the land of the living. The text also speaks of his grave and his death.
In fact, the Hebrew for death is plural, which is a way within the Hebrew scriptures and Semitic languages of speaking of an especially violent death. The text speaks of him pouring out his soul to death. It states he made himself a guilt offering. And then the text explicitly states that he'll prolong his days in CC and that the pleasure of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
How does this happen? How do you die a violent death and yet prolong your days? The answer is resurrection. That's how he suffers miserably and brutally, and yet he is highly exalted in the end. So we have a singular servant who represents Israel and carries a mission to Israel, one that seems to have failed, but he's also called to be a light to the nations, one who'll suffer a violent death before rising from the dead and seeing his spiritual seed live on, and in the end, he'll be highly exalted. I'd say the picture's getting pretty clear. One of my friends, after he became a believer in Jesus, brought home to his father the Bible that he got when he was bar mitzvahed, and his father started reading Isaiah 53 and threw it down and said, Somebody changed it.
Why? Because it looked like it was speaking of Yeshua. So clearly, it is. Number four, Isaiah 53 clearly points to vicarious suffering, substitutionary suffering, specifically the servant's substitutionary death functioning as an asham, a guilt offering. So I'm going to just quote to you verses again from Isaiah 53.
Sorry to quote so much from the Bible when we're talking about scripture. Surely he took up our infirmities. Remember, he died in our place. He suffered on our behalf. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted, but he was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him. By his wounds, we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of all of us. He was cut off from the land of the living for the transgression of my people.
He was stricken. He made himself an offering for guilt, an asham. By his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. He poured out his life to death.
He was numbered with the transgressors. He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors. The servant's death is an asham, which was specifically an offering for guilt, even for intentional sins in the Hebrew Bible.
Listen to some rabbinic concepts. Leviticus Rabbah 2012, Rabbah Hiyabah Abba said, The sons of Aaron died the first day of Nisan. Why then does the Torah mention their death in conjunction with the Day of Atonement? It is to teach that just as the Day of Atonement atones, so also the death of the righteous atones. That's why some famous rabbis, even in the Holocaust, cried out as they were dying, Let me be an atonement for Israel.
That's why the Scriptures even point to this, and the Talmud confirms it, the death of the high priest atones for service. All right, we're going to stop here. Those are my opening statements.
Heather, just cut a little out. My opening statements will be back with Rabbi Shmuley. This is how we rise up It's the Line of Fire with your host, Dr. Michael Brown.
Get on the Line of Fire by calling 866-34-TRUTH. Here again is Dr. Michael Brown. Hey friends, welcome to Thoroughly Jewish Thursday. We are in the midst of listening to a debate over decade-old Rabbi Shmuley and yours truly, Isaiah 53, did Jesus die for our sins? Now we get to Rabbi Shmuley's opening statement. I am not in as good a mood as I otherwise would be on such an august occasion where in a tabloid-centered society we can discuss issues of such dramatic historic and spiritual import.
I attribute my own malaise to my own actions. You see, just before arriving today back from Toronto where I debated Richard Dawkins, the world's most famous atheist and the world's best known evolutionary biologist. We debated yesterday in Toronto. I had an argument with a very special soul.
She's here in the audience tonight. I had a fight with my own wife. She's the mother of my eight children.
She has been my bride since I was 21 years old and she was 19. But sometimes the pressures that bend me out of shape, that afflict and torment my soul, will cause me to act in a manner which is unbecoming, to speak in a way that is not righteous. And before I started this debate, since I did not see her until moments before the debate began, I just returned back. I had to go and I had to apologize to her.
I had to say I was sorry for the hurtful things that I said to such a beautiful special soul because nobody died for my sins. Because I am accountable for my own actions. Because the good that I do, I can take pride in. And the bad that I do, I take shame in. I am a member of a tiny, tiny people. I give bequeathed to the world the single most powerful idea in the history of the world, which is that man created in the image of God is free.
Just like God. Freedom of choice, freedom of conscience, the ability to choose your own destiny, the ability to become the man you want to be, and to avoid being the woman you don't want to be. That is the single most potent idea in the history of the world. And it has been an idea for which my people have faced torment, persecution, anti-Semitism, and forced conversion.
Whether it was an evolutionary biologist who told me yesterday that we are all controlled by biological predeterminism, genetic predisposition. Or whether it's my dear friend Mike Brown who wants to tell you tonight that Jesus died for your sins. My friends, you must rise to the occasion of transcending a message that says that you are not accountable for what you did wrong and that you must not repent of the sins that have blighted your soul. The Bible makes it clear, Ezekiel chapter 18 verse 20, the soul that sinneth, it shall die, but the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. There are no sacrificial lambs that can cleanse you of your sin.
I'm sorry, you must do it yourself. It is the single most important message of the television show that I host, Shalom in the Home, that how you raise your children will come precisely down to the actions that you practice which are copied and ate by your kids. And isn't it true that all my Christian brothers and sisters who are here tonight believe in the very same thing because is that not the ethos of the great United States of America? We're not communists.
We don't allow the state to take control or responsibility for our lives. God Almighty, even if it were true that Jesus died for your sins, then I would reject religion outright and I would dismiss it as a farce because anything that robs me of my potential to be an individual and my accountability for my actions is another form of state control and I choose not to live in Moscow but in the United States of America. And it's the reason why I call upon my Christian brothers and sisters to have your Christianity tonight enriched by the religion of Jesus of Nazareth who was a devout Jew, a Pharisee, a rabbi, and everything he taught came straight from the Torah. And he never taught that he would die for anyone's sins. His message was one of empowerment, not disempowerment.
You need to hear from the Jews how your faith can be enriched, not by trying to convert us but by reaching out to us to understand the Jewishness of Jesus. Again the Bible says, Numbers chapter 35 verse 31, Do not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer who deserves to die. There is no ransom. He must surely be put to death.
Personal accountability. Numbers chapter 35 verse 33, Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, sadly, except by the blood of the one who shed it. Isaiah 53 has always been understood by the Jews to refer to the nation of Israel.
That is not my opinion. It is the opinion of one of the earliest church fathers. In the third century of the Common Era, the Greek church father Origen wrote in Contra Celsum that Isaiah 53, according to the Jewish people, refers to the suffering of the children of Israel.
We are God's suffering servant. It's the reason why that Isaiah 53 constantly changes tenses. There is the past, present and future within one chapter.
It speaks about three different tenses occurring to a single subject. If it were any man or any woman, it would not make sense. But if it refers to an eternal nation who have been the scapegoat of the nations of the world because they have paid the ultimate price for propagating a message of divine ethics and moral virtue, then it makes perfect sense. What we know is that Isaiah 53 cannot in any way refer to Jesus.
For many reasons, it would take too long to go through them all. For example, it says that, quote, Isaiah 53 verse 3, He was despised and isolated from men, a man of pains and accustomed to illness. As one from whom we would hide our faces, he was despised and we had no regard for him. But if you open the New Testament to the book of Matthew chapter 4. Let me actually begin with Matthew chapter, there's many. Chapter 4 verse 25, And great crowds followed Jesus. They followed him from the Galilee, from the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and from beyond the Jordan. And again in Matthew chapter 21 verse 5, Jesus says, Go and tell the people as he makes his triumphant entry into Jerusalem that their king is coming to see them. And who came to greet him? Verse 8, A very large crowd even spread their cloaks on the road and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
The crowds that went ahead of him followed, shouting, Hoshana! Glory to the Son of David, blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord. The New Testament says that Jesus was loved by the people far from being despised. The same thing is said in the book of Luke, but you'll have to forgive me due to time constraints, not being able to quote everything. It also says that whoever the suffering servant was, God desired to oppress him. Verse 10, And he afflicted him.
According to very learned scholars like Dr. Michael Brown, because we debated this in our debate about who killed Jesus, Jesus was never repressed by God. He chose to lay down his life for the atonement of sin. It was not God's plan.
It was his plan. But most importantly, it says that, quote, We're all very familiar with what Jesus said on the cross as he died. From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. Jesus is slowly dying on the cross after being crucified. And then about three o'clock, Jesus cried with a loud voice, with a loud voice, Kaeli, Kaeli, lama zabachthani. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Whoever is being discussed in Isaiah 53, it is impossible that it relates the death of Jesus.
My friends, Isaiah 53 has always been understood by the Jewish people as referring to God's most long-suffering servant, a godly nation whose only crime was to bear witness to God in history, a nation that, as Isaiah says, has been regarded as, quote, diseased, stricken by God, afflicted. Wasn't it the Christians that always said about us Jews that we were afflicted by God for having killed Christ, for having forsaken our Messiah? Is that not the reason that I'm here tonight to defend my faith against yet another challenge, against yet another assault?
At least now we can do it voluntarily. Once upon a time, we were forced into these debates at the blade, the sharp blade of a sword. Through his wounds, we were healed. Through the terrible suffering of the Jewish people, the nations of the world finally came to understand ethics and morality as they, too, embraced the Ten Commandments. We have all strayed like sheep, and each of us turning his own way, but God had inflicted upon him the iniquity of us all. We have the capacity to enter into a new era with our Christian brothers and sisters, where the affliction and persecution of the Jewish people will finally be put right.
The godly lives of our Christian brothers and sisters. All right, got to cut in. We will be right back with the rest of Rabbi Shmuley's opening statement. This is how we rise up. It's the Line of Fire with your host, Dr. Michael Brown.
Get on the Line of Fire by calling 866-34-TRUTH. Here again is Dr. Michael Brown. Welcome, friends, to Thirdly Jewish Thursday. We're in the midst of a debate with Rabbi Shmuley and yours.
Truly, did Jesus die for our sins? What does Isaiah 53 speak of? We go to the end of his opening statement. Especially our evangelical brothers and sisters who are Israel's greatest supporters today.
It will not come by continuing to make this prophecy true, by us hemorrhaging some of our best and our brightest, like Dr. Michael Brown, who indeed is one of my dearest friends, a man I confide in even about personal issues. But we lost him to our nation because he felt that he had no place in our community. And when he went to Christians saying, I'm lost, you know what they should have done?
They should have sent him back to his people. They should have said, you are from the nation of Jesus. You must live the life that he lived. You must go to synagogue, put on tzitzit, put on tefillin, keep kosher. And you must find God through his tradition.
That's what I've always done with all the wayward Christians who came to me and said that they found their religion vacuous and they wanted to become Jewish. Isaiah 53 is also an important homily to all of us who suffer for doing that which is right. If you read the verses, it fits perfectly with Abraham Lincoln, the greatest of our presidents, who indeed was despised, detested, called an orangutan, not by the South, but by the North. And he paid the price of other people's sins because when we took our African American brothers and sisters and treated them like cattle and drew their blood with a lash, and when we sold their children on a block, that man paid the price with a bullet to his head. Indeed, he went to his death like a sheep that never opens his mouth, just like Martin Luther King did, because the chapter applies to him as well. To all of us who are prepared to suffer for that which is righteous, for those of us who are prepared to live like Moses, who the great Rav Moshe Asher says this applies to, this chapter, who dies forlorn and alone atop a mountain named Nebo, there are none to bury him, and there are no 21-gun salutes, and there is no equestrian stature or Hollywood epic that is erected to his honor. He did the right because it was right. There was no reward.
There was no glory. He did the right because it was right, and then like silent footsteps in the night, he retreated from the world stage, and we are inspired by his memory till today. And one of those Jews who gave his life for his community was Jesus of Nazareth, who fought the Roman oppression. He hated Roman brutality. He lived for the Torah.
He dressed exactly like me, albeit without a suit and perhaps with a tunic. But he was an Orthodox Jew who loved his people, and when he tried to stop the Roman brutality, they killed him in cold blood, and he became one of the great martyrs of his people. And he joined the millions upon millions of Jews who have suffered for their faith, all of whom have been eternally memorialized by Isaiah 53.
Thank you very much. All right, we're now going to get into my rebuttal to Rabbi Shmueli. Well, I appreciate that Shmueli, and I'm always moved by your comments. And I also had an argument with a woman today, too. The lady at the front desk of the hotel who lied to me about my dry cleaning being ready, I had apologized to her as well. OK, where to start? We just found out that Isaiah 53 applies to Abe Lincoln, the people of Israel, Martin Luther King, anybody who suffers, but not Jesus.
Very interesting. Also, somehow I remember saying at my opening comments that the fact that Jesus died for our sins does not remove accountability, and according to the Scriptures, it must be joined with repentance. In fact, read through the New Testament, just study the word repentance, read through the New Testament, you will find far more references to the New Testament word repentance than you will find to the word repentance in all the Torah. What's the issue? The issue is we all fall short, we all need mercy.
I'll take all the help I can get. I'm going to repent and turn to God, but I'm not going to stand before God and say, look at how good and righteous I am, because we all fall short. You know why God has not destroyed the earth again since Noah's day?
Because we fall short as a human race, and God would have to keep destroying it, according to Genesis, the eighth chapter. So there were temple sacrifices, there was the day of atonement, and the rabbinic traditions, even speaking of the atoning power, the death of the righteous, there are even rabbinic traditions that say that when we pray, we should remember the sacrifice of Isaac on our behalf, so God will have mercy. What about Ezekiel 18, 20, the soul that sins shall die? True. The New Testament says you reap what you sow, no argument there, but actually the context of that is people were saying that the father sinned and the son suffer for it, and the prophet was saying, no, everybody is going to die for his own sin.
That remains the same. If we die in our sin without repentance, we're lost. If we repent and receive God's mercy, we can have forgiveness. And again, repentance is an essential foundational truth of the New Testament writings. Jesus begins his message in Mark 1.15, the time has come, repent and believe the good news. Paul says in Acts 17.30, God commands all men everywhere to repent. He says the message he preached for years, Acts 20, 21, was what? Repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus.
The two go hand in hand. But even the concept of the merits of the fathers and the righteous and past generations helping the next generations, these are all saying that we need one another. We need the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah so that God, instead of punishing us, will punish him. So when we join that with our repentance towards God, he will say, I forgive you. The idea that Jesus never taught that he was going to die for our sins is, where do I start?
I mean, how many verses do I quote? I'm the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The son of man didn't come to serve, but to serve, to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom. For everybody, the Greek word lutron is the equivalent of the Hebrew word kofar, ransom. You know, Yom Kippur, day of atonement, the same word that he said, I came to give my life as a ransom. His own words, over and over and over.
And I was fascinated by the quotations from Numbers 35. Here's the context. Someone accidentally kills another person, so there's blood shed, okay? There's a problem. There's been blood shed. You say, well, I'll repent, I'll ask forgiveness.
Well, the only thing that will cleanse the blood is the blood of the person that killed the person. So what did Israel have? Israel had a city of refuge, according to Numbers 35. And you would go there if you accidentally killed someone and you'd have to stay there the rest of your life or until the death of the high priest. Let me read the exact quote to you. The Talmud asks the question, in Markot 11b, also Leviticus 10.6, isn't it the exile of the innocent manslayer in the city of refuge that atones?
The answer is no. It is not the exile that atones, but the death of the high priest. You had to stay in the city until either you died or the high priest died because he was the intercessor for the nation. And the Jewish scholar Jacob Milgrom comments, as the high priest atones for Israel's sins through his ritual service in his lifetime, so he atones for a homicide through his death. So the very text that's really quoted from Numbers 35 is one that the Talmud uses to say that the death of the high priest atones.
Amazing. Also, the notion that Isaiah 53 has always referred to Israel in rabbinic literature is untrue. Origen makes reference to interpretations in his day, but there's never been a day when every single Jew had the same interpretation of the scripture, and we know that the Talmud and the rabbinic writings make reference to Isaiah 53 speaking of Moses, or Isaiah 53 speaking of the righteous, or Isaiah 53 speaking of other figures.
So it was used with reference to other figures in the history of interpretation. Even most recently, the Babatru Jews applied it to their own Rebbe and said that Isaiah 53 applied to him. So it's never been universally and always applied to the people of Israel, even though that's been a dominant interpretation. But it can't refer to the people of Israel for a number of reasons. Number one, God made a covenant in the Torah, Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28, that if our people were righteous, then we would be exalted and blessed and be the head and not the tail, and if we sinned, that we would be punished. So as a nation, we could not be punished for the sins of others and suffer for the sins of others, otherwise God would have to break his own covenant, his own Torah. It can't refer to Israel.
Also, it speaks of someone that was perfectly righteous and never sinned. That doesn't apply to Israel. Shmuley said through Israel's sufferings, the nations have been helped and learned about the Ten Commandments. Primarily, the nations have learned about the Ten Commandments through Jesus Yeshua, the Messiah, who brought the knowledge of the God of Israel to the ends of the earth, and that's how these people around the world read the Hebrew Scriptures. That's how most Christians here know about the Ten Commandments.
It's the same around the world. But there's a principle, according to Jeremiah 30-11, that God would completely destroy nations that caused his people to suffer. So Israel's suffering was not good for the Babylonians. It was not good for the Assyrians, these people that afflicted Israel. It was not good for them.
Have you ran into any Babylonians or Assyrians lately? Are you going to tell me that the Holocaust brought healing to Germany or the German people? Certainly not. So this idea that Israel's suffering has brought healing doesn't work, but the idea that Messiah's suffering has brought healing, so many here could say your lives were transformed when you put your trust in what God graciously did for you, and it brought healing and transformation. Let me go on. The idea that Isaiah 53 cannot apply to Jesus because he was not despised by the people, I actually deal with in Volume 3 of my series on answering Jewish objections to Jesus, answer 4.11.
What's the issue? Isaiah 53 first speaks of the origins of the Messiah, lowly. Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?
He grew up in a small town in Galilee. And then it focuses on his death, rejected, despised, hated, misunderstood. In point of fact, he was only temporarily admired by the crowds. One Christian author said as long as he was misunderstood, he was followed by the crowds. Once he came to be understood, they crucified him. That's why he died a criminal's death, forsaken by people, and that's why his name is still used as a curse word, and that's why by so many Jewish people here, he's still despised, just like the Scripture said. The idea that it couldn't apply to him because he opened his mouth on the cross, first we know that it took people by surprise the fact that over and over he didn't reply when he was asked to defend himself.
He didn't reply. He's the one from which Martin Luther King and Gandhi and others got the picture of nonviolent resistance. And how are you going to say it applied to the Jewish people and not him? We've never praised our voices? We've never protested?
And how are you going to say that the passage applies to the Jewish people? We've never been praised? We've never been liked? We've never been prominent in the society?
The arguments just don't hold water at all. So again, Isaiah 53, when read rightly, when read in context, when read without rhetoric, you look at it, you go home, you read it, it speaks of one person. I'll ask you again, who is this one who according to the Scriptures had a mission to the nations as well as to the people of Israel?
I've had the joy of going overseas more than 100 different times and I can personally introduce you to former Hindus, former Muslims, former atheists, former terrorists, former lost people, former self-righteous people, former messed up people from every religion and walk of life who now worship the God of Israel, pray for the Jewish people and love Israel because of this Jesus the Messiah. Yet, he was rejected by his own people just as the text said. It speaks of his past and his present life and his future.
Three texts is worth perfectly well. Who is this one? He came at the appointed time. He died as the Scripture said. He rose from the dead.
He continues on to this day even though his own people rejected. One day the light will go off. All right, we come back. Friends, we're going to give you Rabbi Shmueli's rebuttal.
This is how we rise up. It's the Line of Fire with your host, Dr. Michael Brown. Get on the Line of Fire by calling 866-34-TRUTH. Here again is Dr. Michael Brown. Thanks for joining us on the Line of Fire.
All right, if you want to listen to the entire debate, we'll tell you how to do that at the end. Right now we give you Rabbi Shmueli's rebuttal. My friends, does it not strike you as somewhat curious that amid Dr. Brown's argument that Isaiah 53 is a prophecy of Jesus concerning his atonement for the nation of Israel who despised and rejected him, upon whose head their sin was placed by God, and for whom they received atonement? Does it not strike you as somewhat odd that 40 years after that atonement the Jews were inflicted with the single greatest catastrophe of their entire existence up until that time?
Forty years after Jesus dies, not even. The Romans send their best generals to sweep down from the north and crush a rebellion that according to Roman historians leaves about one million Jews dead and leaves the temple in shambles. This was the Holocaust of its time.
You see, the Romans didn't have gas chambers. So killing a million Jews was really hard work. You had to drive a sword into each and every one of them, pierce them with a lance, maybe crucify them the way Jesus was. Of course Pontius Pilate crucified about 250,000 Jews before he was recalled by the Emperor Tiberius. So Jesus brings atonement for the Jews, and that's what this verse is supposed to refer to. And how does the atonement help them? Well, four decades later they have a Holocaust that kills about one out of three Jews who were alive at that time. Is that atonement? And if it is, who the heck needs it? Please keep such atonement to yourselves.
We beg you. We Jews have had that kind of atonement for two millennia. We can easily live without that atonement.
The example that he just gave, that Mike doesn't mind if I call him Mike, I'm sure. That if you kill someone accidentally and the death of the high priest atones, so that you don't have to be put to death for it, and Jesus dies for our sins, that's referring to the Jews. Remember, even according to Dr. Michael Brown, this chapter is not referring to non-Jews at all. It's referring to the Jews who afflicted Jesus. And yet they're the only ones who didn't get atonement.
They turned out to be the nation upon whom God's vengeance is visited horribly, catastrophically, and with unspeakable dimensions for 2,000 years. My friends, that's a preposterous argument. We know that Isaiah 53 cannot refer to Jesus, although it can refer to Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln, as I said, because they died silently, and Mike asked for me if I was going to make some points to do them early. I did it in the first speech, in the first exchange, but he did not respond to it. Jesus said, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? He also said, it is done.
He certainly did not go to his death silently. But more importantly, there was a movie called The Da Vinci Code, and my Christian brothers and sisters found that film to be not just heretical, to run contrary to Christian orthodoxy. They found it to be positively blasphemous, sacrilegious. They protested the film.
We did a debate on that film. Yesterday, in this conference in Toronto, I believe his name is Shimon Jacobovich, if I'm pronouncing it correctly, who did the documentary on Discovery Channel with James Cameron, the tomb of Jesus, suggested that Jesus also married Mary Magdalene, had children. I debated the cardinal archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the senior Catholic prelate in the United States, on CNN International, 8 p.m. on a Friday night, good Friday before Easter, it was pre-taped, by the way, where he said, this is blasphemous. The suggestion that Jesus had children is not only sacrilegious, it is blasphemous. And yet, whoever we're talking about in Isaiah 53, verse 10, God desired to oppress him. I already pointed out that that goes contrary to everything that Christianity believes, that Jesus laid down his life. He quoted it before, Mike, that the good shepherd lays down his life, not that God chooses to kill him, but God desired to oppress him, and he afflicted him. If his soul would acknowledge guilt, had he simply just given in and acknowledged guilt, he would see offspring, and live long days, he would see offspring? You mean suddenly, the person who Mike is arguing this refers to, not only is it not sacrilegious to insinuate that Jesus could marry and have children, the prophecy positively guaranteed that he would have had kids had he not died. My friends, there was a final and very important point. And by the way, it also said he would prolong his days, and since Christian theology says that Jesus had to die to atone for sins, there was no possibility he could have prolonged his days.
But most importantly, I return to my original point. Did you notice that in this entire chapter of Isaiah 53, there's no mention of atonement? There is a righteous servant who suffers for the sins of others. No one can atone for your sin, but the righteous have always suffered for the sins of others. Whether it was the Jews who were brutalized through corrupt Christian teachings, not true Christian teachings, but corrupt teachings that burned our people at the stake.
Whether it was the Jews who were gassed, their little babies taken, their heads smashed against trees to save the Nazi Wehrmacht bullets. The righteous have always suffered for the sins of the wicked. That does not mean that the wicked are going to be forgiven.
Indeed, the wicked here are still called wicked, even after this servant suffers. And thank God for that. No one will ever atone for what Hitler did to our people. I don't care how much they believe in Christ. I don't care how many churches they go to pray at. I don't care how many Hail Marys they say.
I don't care how much scripture they can memorize. You will never be able to atone for the murder of six million Jews. You will never atone for the murder of all the Jews in the Crusades.
You will never atone for the murder of all the Jews in the Inquisition. Because God is just. Because those killers have no way back. Justice Osama Bin Laden, who killed 3,000 innocent New Yorkers, our brothers and sisters, has no way back. And it's the reason why every single candidate in the Democratic presidential debate, and the Republican presidential debate, when asked, can we take out Osama Bin Laden with a precision strike, they all said absolutely.
And when Barack Obama wasn't sure, he corrected himself in the second debate because he plummeted in the polls. Because there is no way back. Now why didn't some of our Christian leaders stand up and say, Osama Bin Laden can confess his sins, he can ask clemency from the United States, he can state his belief in Jesus, and Jesus died for his sins, and suddenly the blood of 3,000 innocent Americans is wiped away as we embrace him with love and open arms because Jesus died for his sins 2,000 years ago.
There is a line that you cross, there is no coming back. Because God is merciful. Because God is loving. Because God is just. And he loves the victims of horrible oppressors. No one can die to atone for what they do to the defenseless and the innocent.
Just as the servant of Israel who is so eloquently spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, her oppressors must understand that you cannot slaughter God's chosen people, neither can you pressure them to abandon God's covenant, because they are an eternal people who will survive every debate, who will survive every persecution, and who will survive throughout time. Thank you very much. Okay, friends, there were closing statements that followed, five minutes each, and we had to just excerpt slight bits from the content because of the parameters of our radio segments, but you got almost everything from our opening statements, then our full rebuttals, then we had the closing statements, and then audience Q&A. Here's how to watch the entire thing free. Go to realmessiah.com, realmessiah.com, click on Debates, and you can watch that debate and others. Share them with your Jewish friends, all right? They are really eye-opening. You'll see the debate, like, just listen to the debate that we did moderated by Sid Roth, Tobia Singer and I, yeah, 30 years ago.
Our voices sound a little bit different. He's refused to debate me since, but you can listen to that debate as well on the website, or if you don't have the app, if you don't have the app, get the Ask Dr. Brown Ministries app, A-S-K-D-R Brown Ministries, put in that full name, for Apple, for Android. Scroll down to Real Messiah and listen there, and friends, I think it should be clear, go back, read Isaiah 53, of whom does it speak? Jesus, Yeshua, who died for our sins and rose from the dead so that we can have grace to repent and be forgiven and free, my Jewish friends, the text speaks of him. Another program powered by the Truth Network.
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